Employers’ groups in Ireland have said that Gender Pay Gap reporting “is not a useful mechanism” and that the new laws would be “inappropriate”.
This view, however, is at odds with the view taken by many major businesses and by employers’ groups in the UK.
Deloitte – the largest professional services firm in the world, with almost a quarter of a million employees – has said that “analysing and reporting our gender pay gap over the past two years has proved to be a critical measurement against which we can consider our progress.”
FDM Group – an international IT services company with more than 3,000 employees – said that they “are a strong supporter of gender pay gap reporting” and that they believe “it is an important first step towards creating greater gender equality.”
TSB Bank – which has 4.6 million customers, 550 branches and over £20 billion in loans and deposits – said that gender pay gap reporting “is an incredibly important step forward.”
PwC – a professional services firm with an annual revenue of $35.9 billion and over 220,000 employees – is a long-time supporter of gender pay gap reporting. They say that they “were one of the first UK employers to voluntarily publish their gender pay gap in 2014.”
UK employers’ groups have also spoken positively about gender pay gap reporting. EEF, the UK’s largest sectoral employers’ group, said its members “do see some benefits of reporting their gender pay gap, with almost half (47%) stating it was a great opportunity to benchmark their companies against similar companies and other industries.”
EEF went on to say “we agree, subject to some additional considerations, that the publication of gender pay information will encourage employers to take actions that will help close the pay gap.”
TechUK, meanwhile, an organisation representing more than 950 technology companies, said “the government’s steps to ensure that companies publish gender pay gap information is a good first step.”
A May 2017 survey of 165 UK employers (29% of which are FTSE 250) by the world’s largest human resources consulting firm, Mercer, found that “more than 70% of respondents agree with the principle of gender pay gap reporting.”
The survey also found that 75% of employers in retail believe reporting “will make a difference” to the gender pay gap.
Support for pay gap transparency measures has come from across the political spectrum. Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton recently wrote there is “only one workable measure that will address the issue of the gender pay gap. And that is employers publishing statistics and providing transparency.”
Meanwhile, Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone said that, “as argued by IMPACT (Ireland’s largest public and services trade union) publishing information with regards to the gender pay gap will incentivise employers to address the issue and to narrow the gap as they will be in public competition with other businesses and organisations which pay their employees more equally. Therefore, the proposed Bill does embody meaningful change.”
Transparency will work. It will shine a light on inequity and enable businesses and consumers to take account of the gender pay gap when making decisions about how they spend their money. It would also help decent employers to compete for the best talent in the labour market.
It would certainly encourage businesses to identify the causes of the gender pay gap in their organisations and take measures to address them. In so doing, they would add value to their brands.
Irish employer groups need to catch up with mainstream thinking on this issue and realise that there is broad support within the business community for these measures.